Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

It has been a while since the last update on Trevor. We all made it through the holidays and last week was the first full week of a "normal" routine in quite a while. Trevor did get his trach tube out on December 29th.  It didn't really happen as planned, and required a trip to another hospital due to some bleeding around the trach sight, but it was taken out and has now healed very well, and he has been doing very well without having it in. The transfers and extra commotion really wore him out, so it took a few days to just recover and catch up on rest. It really wore me out, so I can only imagine how much it exhausted him. 

The week of January 6th went pretty well. There is an increase in focus, head control, and more stamina. He shows many signs of hearing and understanding what you talk about. He is trying so hard to help with moving and other certain tasks, but just cannot quite coordinate the muscles to do the more complicated tasks yet. He makes many more sounds, but cannot make words yet. He has started eating more soft foods and does a real good job of swallowing and protecting his airway, but he does tire out very fast when he starts out concentrating on tasks. We did finally see a small smile out of him, which was so good to see his small dimple above the corner of his mouth.  

One of the hardest things for us is not being able to communicate verbally with him to know what his needs and wants are, although we have started to catch on to his cues and he is becoming much more consistent with using eye blinks or eye closing to answer us. We miss visiting and talking with Trevor so much. I remember one of our last conversations was about taking the ACT's and colleges he wanted to visit and play football for, and of course the grain and cattle markets. He really had a vision of what he wanted with his future and seemed so mature for his 17 year old body. 

As time moves on, we really keep waiting for some large steps forward in progress. We have been trying to come up with a plan going forward for Trevor's best interests that include getting the skull flap put back in place which has to happen in Sioux Falls. There will be so many big decisions to be made soon, and we will need to rely on following whatever God's plan is for Trevor going forward. We did find out our stay in Lincoln was approved for a couple more weeks by insurance, so now we at least know that for sure. 

We are often asked what specifically people can pray for.  Nikki wrote the following:
Pray for God to guide us with Trevor's recovery and healing process.  Specifically when the time is right to get his bone flap put in and also for the insurance company to see the continued progress even though it is slower than they would like.  We are on God's time and plan, not insurance's. Pray for all of Trevor's loved ones (family and friends). I know it is so hard because we miss the Trevor that we knew and are trying so hard to trust in God's plan. 
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Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Thank you to everyone who has sent cards and well wishes to Trevor the past couple of weeks. We read the cards and he enjoys every one of them. It is so nice and heart warming to know so many people are thinking of him over the holidays. It has been hard to go through the holidays under these circumstances and not having Trevor be himself, but we still appreciate what Christmas is all about and we have had some great meals and memories made this year.  We are so fortunate to have a small house just one block away where the whole family can go back and forth to and still be together.  
Trevor has been making some progress the last couple of weeks as well, although it still seems slow. Posturing, head control, swallowing, and focusing have been the main things he has worked on. Day to day progress is hard to see, but week to week is much more noticeable. He is working so hard and there is so much healing going on that we cannot see so he tires out easily. Sometimes a 20 minute nap makes a huge difference on how much he can focus. He continues to try different soft foods and has been doing well with that, and definitely has some foods he likes and some he dislikes. We try to get him outside for a little bit when it is nice out. Sometimes these walls can start to feel so confining, especially when we are used to the wide open spaces we have back home. Trevor really is an outdoors guy and enjoys as much of his day outside as possible. I can’t wait for the day we can just get on the ATV and go for a drive again. He had numerous trail cameras out getting pictures of deer and wildlife to get ready for hunting season. He’s the only one who knows where several of them are, and I am sure he has some real great pictures on them!
We have been asked to share the address to send cards again, and we really like reading the cards to Trevor. Cards can be sent to him at:

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
5401 South St.
Trevor Zuehlke L57
Lincoln, NE  68506

Thank you again for all of the prayers and support. We keep hoping the small steps turn into larger strides soon. 

Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

It has been a little while since the last update on Trevor. Progress for this type of injury is very slow and will take patience, so on a day to day basis, there sometimes is not a whole lot of new information to update. However, in the last week, Trevor has started eating some soft foods like yogurt, pudding, ice cream, and thickened juice. Even the simple things like swallowing and using his vocal chords need to be worked on.

Posture and sitting are challenges he is working on now. It is hard to see the struggle with those kinds of things, but looking back to where he was two weeks ago with that, he is definitely making progress. His hair is growing back and he opens his eyes nice and wide now when he is awake. He tires out very fast and still spends a lot of his day resting.

We have been getting asked numerous questions about his accident and know many people want to find a simple answer to such a complex and horrendous thing that had to happen to Trevor.  The fact is, there is no simple and obvious answer. Like any other tragic thing that has happened to others, if we could go back in time, we would change something to prevent it. The fact is, we cannot do that now. We need to focus on Trevor’s recovery and whatever plan God has for him in the future.

We have been asked some things numerous times and people really want to point at one single thing that caused this injury. So just to set the facts straight, here are some answers to questions that keep coming up:

·         Trevor had a new and top rated helmet that is used by a majority of college and NFL players.

·         Britton-Hecla coaches have received training on recognizing concussion symptoms, as well as diabetic reactions, heart conditions, mental health, etc. by medical professionals. This is above and beyond any sanctioned test by any association.

·         The football coaches held a pre-season meeting with players and parents. Head injuries and symptoms were talked about, and it was very clear they would be taken very seriously.

·         A licensed Athletic Trainer has been on the sidelines for games. They are real good at what they do and I have seen them keep players from returning to the game for their safety.  Trevor would have had to be cleared to return to the game that night after being examined by the Trainer, not a coach, after exhibiting the symptoms he did as he jogged and walked off the field that last time. He did not exhibit any symptoms earlier in the game to warrant a concussion exam. 

·         Trevor was functioning at a very high level that night, perhaps one of his best games. Even at halftime, he was very engaged and discussing strategy with teammates and coaches, he very much seemed like himself to me.  I was on the sideline doing statistics, so I was fairly close to the action.

·         Trevor has a real high pain tolerance, maybe he did have a previous concussion, maybe he did not. The fact is, we do not know for sure. His doctors could not definitively say what happened even after all of the images and tests that have been done.

·         Trevor and I have had several discussions about concussions and the seriousness of them. I have seen him recommend to the coaches or trainers to check certain teammates that may have exhibited some signs while on the field.

·         Trevor loves his teammates, coaches, and his opponents. He wouldn’t want anyone to feel guilty they contributed to this injury happening.

·         The fact is there is no simple and single explanation to this very complex situation, just like many other tragic events. We do wish it never happened. We do want the game to be safer with more emphasis put on protecting the heads of players, especially those in a position unable to protect themselves and after the whistle.

On another note, we have heard of several kids on Trevor’s floor here that will be able to go home this week just in time for Christmas. These kids have been through so much already and it is great to know they have made the progress it takes to be done with inpatient rehab.  That is great to hear!

Thank you again for your continued support and prayers for Trevor as well. We have been asked numerous times to share again where people can send Christmas cards and/or funds to help support Trevor and whatever cause he may help with in the future. Please send Trevor a card at:

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
5401 South Street
Trevor Zuehlke L57
Lincoln, NE 68506


Norstar FCU
PO Box 917
Britton, SD  57430 


Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

We have been at Lincoln, NE for one week now. We switched rooms and now have a south facing window and can look outside and see the sunshine. Trevor’s address now is:

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
5401 South St
Trevor Zuehlke L57
Lincoln, NE  68506

Trevor now gets to wear his own shorts and shirts and shoes, although I had to trade him my old broke in pair for his new stiff pair for now. Gone are a bunch of the lines, IV’s, and connections. His hair has grown back from where they had to shave for the procedures he had. We have been signed off to be able to take him outside on our own now.  It has been 55 degrees and sunny here the last two days, so we have taken him out to get some of that fresh outdoor air he loves. 
Today was his third full day of rehab, due to the weekend and holidays.  It has taken a lot of energy for him to get adjusted to the new routine, room, and staff, so the progress he has made in the last week is subtle to see, but there is a lot going on for him as he recovers from his injury. 
Last weekend, we were told of a huge crowd showing up in the middle of a blizzard to attend a benefit for Trevor at Britton’s new Event Center. We are very humbled to see and hear of the amount of support and work put into organizing such an amazing event. The Dueling Duo must have put on a memorable show. We really want to thank all of the people who had a hand in putting on such a show and fundraiser. Trevor will be truly amazed to know of so many people caring and showing compassion towards him. And as his parents, we don’t have the words to tell you how much we appreciate the show of support. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank anyone who has reached out in any way. 

Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

We hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for even as we battle this unfortunate injury to Trevor.  
We did make to Madonna in Lincoln yesterday and got all settled in.  Trevor had a pretty quiet day today.  Tomorrow he will start assessments and therapy.  The transport wore him out quite a bit, so the extra day of rest today probably was alright. We were able to get a house one block away from the hospital, so the eight of us were able to still put together a big feast for us all here in Lincoln. 
Many people have asked for an address to send things to Trevor here.  It is:
Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
5401 South St
Trevor Zuehlke L66
Lincoln, NE. 68506

Thank you for continued prayers and support. 

Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

We have been anxiously waiting for today ever since we received word last week from the insurance company that they denied Trevor’s transfer and would not review Trevor’s transfer to Madonna until later.  Today had been another exhausting day, especially when by mid afternoon all that the insurance company would tell us is that they have 72 hours to review a file.  Now we hear of bad weather coming and 72 hours puts us at Thanksgiving Day and a closed office on Friday through Sunday, so the reality of waiting one whole more week really started to weigh on us.  We started making some calls and connections, and also knew we have had so many people praying specifically for the approval to go through. We have had so many special people open up to helping and praying for things to move forward, and all of a sudden connections and aquaintences start coming together and the best interests of Trevor are finally being heard.  So we received word tonight that the transfer to rehab in Lincoln, NE has been approved for tomorrow! We want to give a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen, and we all truly believe all of the prayers helped to put these connections in place to get this expedited so it didn’t turn into next week. For this we must thank Him for listening.  God is good.  Now, there is a significant winter storm starting to brew up that complicate things for tomorrow, so we still are not at the next step yet. But we do feel a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders. Hopefully our next update is from a different zip code. 

Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

Trevor has been getting accustomed to a new regular schedule now to get a routine down. He spends a lot of the day sleeping and resting. Yesterday he did do some exercises pedaling a bike situated above his bed coordinated with some electric muscle stimulation.  This was really neat to see, and it brought tears to my eyes to see his muscles flex to the timing of the pedals. Today they had him stand up again, with assistance of equipment. When he is ready, he works his large muscle groups, but the simplest things take such huge effort, and you can see it in his face. 
We still are awaiting on a transfer to Lincoln to be authorized by the insurance company. Please keep the prayers coming for a timely and safe transfer.  
Back home, numerous people teamed up today to help harvest a bunch of corn for us. Teamwork is the thing Trevor loves the most about the things he enjoys doing, whether it’s sports or hunting with buddies or working in groups. What happened today will make Trevor so proud and happy to see so many people working together for a common goal, and accomplish so much. I don’t have the words to thank everyone who participated, but from the videos I saw, it took a village of people to pull it all off, from the operators to the food providers to the fuel suppliers to the traffic directors to the mechanics and everyone in between. It is awesome to see the roles of everyone come together to operate as one. Trevor will love it!!  Thank you so very much!!!

Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

The last couple of days have found us beyond frustrated. Not because of Trevor’s progress going backward or stalling out, but because we were really hoping to be at Madonna in Lincoln by now.  We had the understanding we were looking at the transfer a day or two ago, but our health insurance did not authorize transfer at this time and will not re-evaluate until Friday.  We still have hope of being transferred before Thanksgiving, but nothing is known for sure.  The emotional roller coaster this has been is extremely exhausting, and we really didn’t think we would have to be battling insurance to top it off. We were ready to go to Madonna, and Madonna was ready for us, and med team was waiting to push the next steps thinking he was transferring.  Now we have to wait to gather more details and show more progress to appease the insurance company. 
Trevor is still making little baby steps forward.  They had him standing today, but with full assistance.  We got him outside for a short time in the wheelchair and he got to breathe some fresh air and catch a little bit of sunshine.  But it is hard to see his chiseled and muscular physique shriveling away.  He has lost over 20% of his body weight since the accident. He had worked so hard to put that muscle on, so it is very hard for me to see that. 
We will keep pressing on, trusting God’s plan, and advocating for Trevor.  We do find energy from all of the people that go out of their way to support Trevor in so many ways.  

Journal entry by Kurt Zuehlke

Somehow we made it through another weekend.  Time seems to just blur together.  We continue to be amazed by the continued prayers and thoughts of so many people from all over. The kindness and generosity shown towards Trevor and us really is appreciated. 
We are looking forward to the move to Lincoln soon. The procedure Trevor had done the other day seems to be doing its job and healing well so far. 
Today was by far Trevor’s most physically active day, and we like the steps going forward. He was able to do some arm and leg exercises on his own today. The really toned and bulky muscles from a month ago have now kind of disappeared. However, the simple movements he performed today took such great strength and was more of an accomplishment then his last weight lifting session a month ago now. 
I can go back and look at pictures from when Trevor was young to just recent ones, and he always seems to be flexing his muscles for pictures. Even though his biceps have lost some size, he still managed to flex his muscles when a new friend, along with his dog, finished saying a prayer with his hand on him today. We had some other friends over to pray for Trevor later this evening, and he gave a big stretch and yawn when they finished as well. We really appreciate seeing the reactions to the love and kindness shown to him. 
We hope things can all come together for the transfer tomorrow so we can take that next step real soon. Thank you to everyone for reaching out. The support shown really does keep us going in the right direction. 

Journal entry by Stacie Johnson

Trevor suffered a head injury during a football game in Warner Friday, Oct 18. He was taken by ambulance to Aberdeen where he was evaluated. A CT scan showed bleeding in his brain, and he was airlifted to Avera Mckennan in Sioux Falls for surgery to drain the blood and relieve pressure. The CT scan did not indicate neck or spine injury.
Currently, he is in a medically induced coma to keep him still so his brain can heal and the swelling can go down. They will not do another CT scan until he is past the acute phase and swelling is gone. 
His medical team say he is stable, holding his own, and not losing any ground. His pupils are reactive to light, he has a gag reflex and shifts away from the nurses when they squeeze his fingertips. They were able to turn his vent setting down to minimal, which indicates he is doing a great job breathing on his own. These are all good signs. He is receiving several medications to reduce swelling and pain, and  to prevent infection and fever.
For now, the doctors can't tell us much more until they start trying to wake him up. We know Trevor is strong and determined, and he will fight his way back with everything he has, because he never gives less than 200%. 
Thank you to everyone sending prayers, please keep praying. 
Trevor’s Story

Site created on October 20, 2019

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